The Doctors: Prescription Opiates Abuse
Chronic pain is a real medical problem affecting millions of people. But medication may not always be the answer, especially because it can easily become addictive and abused by patients.
“Abuse of prescription opioids result in more deaths in the U.S. than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines combined,” Dr. Travis Stork said.
Prescription Drug Abuse Sources
Prescription drugs are eclipsing gunshot wounds as a killer of American citizens, and a CBS News report said that 56% of people abusing pain killers get them from friends and family members, while 18% get them from a doctor and about 4% buy them from a dealer.
Where are they getting this information? It can’t possibly be accurate, can it? Who is surveying drug abusers and thinking they’re getting an accurate picture of what’s going on?
The Drs TV: Pain Medication Prescription Monitoring
The CBS News report also said 35 states monitor doctors’ prescription habits to track or detect abuse. Florida is among the worst offenders, with doctors prescribing “more Oxycodone and similar drugs than all other states combined.” That’s insane.
The Doctors welcomed Robert Saenz, a former federal agent who now works with doctors to prevent prescription abuse. “It’s no longer a drug problem. It’s an epidemic,” Saenz said, adding that 100 people each day die from accidentally overdosing on prescription drugs.
Pain Medication Addiction
Saenz added that doctors are now being prosecuted for being careless when writing prescriptions. He praised doctors for implementing safeguards, which can track prescriptions to prevent habits like doctor shopping, but no method is 100% effective.
Dr. Travis said even with these systems in place, his instinct is to give patients the benefit of the doubt and try to treat them in the best way possible. Saenz said there is no profile for the doctor shopper, which can make it difficult to crack down.
Chex Parties & Teens
He shared the story of an 87-year-old woman who was selling pain medication to pay for her Bingo habit and Lipitor prescriptions. That’s kind of amazing. “We have to educate the public, a different generation that sees this as a different problem,” Saenz said.
Robert Saenz also mentioned Chex Parties, in which teens have wild parties. Partygoers bring the contents of their family’s medicine cabinets, mix the pills together in a bowl at a party, and pass it around for everyone to share.
“And they think they’re safe because doctors have prescribed these,” he said.
This also sounds suspiciously far-fetched, like something that would be exploited on a TV crime drama and blown out of proportion. Or maybe I was just never invited to these types of parties as a teen.
The Doctors: Narcotic Pain Medication Dangers
Dr. Travis explained that narcotic pain medication is dangerous because they can stop your breathing, which can lead to death if no one is around to intervene. He asked what Saenz recommends.
“Regularly monitor your patients through urinalysis examinations,” he suggested. Dr. Jim Sears said doing this with all patients keeps individuals from feeling singled out.
National Prescription Database For Physicians?
He also suggested creating a national database for physicians to check in on what other doctors are prescribing their patients.
“If you’re taking multiple medications, maybe from different doctors, and they are sedating, just make sure…that there is not a dangerous combination occurring,” Dr. Travis said. This can prevent accidental death from pain medication.